Posts Tagged ‘Reprieve’


The disgraceful treatment of this man in Florida continues.  The American justice system shamed

WE attach the latest message from Reprieve about this man’s continuing incarceration in Florida despite his innocence being demonstrated beyond doubt.  We have written about this case before.

Every time I [Clive Stafford Smith] think that Kris Maharaj cannot be subjected to any more injustice, agents of the State of Florida comes up trumps.  I last visited Kris in the euphemistically named South Florida Reception in September.  I went to share the good news that the Magistrate Judge had set a hearing for October 17th.  This meant we would finally be allowed to prove that his trial was manifestly unfair – and the last 33 years he’s spent in Florida’s prison system are unjust.

I should have known the devastating impact of a broken justice system could not be remedied so quickly – 33 years and counting.  The Magistrate had already agreed that we had submitted proof such that no reasonable juror could now convict Kris of the murders of Derrick and Duane Moo Young in Room 1215 of Miami’s Dupont Plaza Hotel all those years ago on October 16th, 1986.  We dismantled every element of the prosecution case against Kris, and obtained sworn testimony from six unimpeached alibi witnesses who placed him far away. Kris even passed his lie detector test: the prosecution’s star witness did not.

Lastly, we lined up half a dozen Colombian cartel witnesses who expressed shock that Kris was locked up for killing the Moo Youngs.  The murders were a hit ordered by Pablo Escobar, they said – the Moo Youngs had been stealing from the Narcos and “had to die.”  One might imagine that this would be sufficient for Kris to be restored to the arms of his long-suffering wife Marita, but under current U.S. precedent it is – we are told – possible that a fair trial should come to the wrong result.  Hence, logic mandates, the mere fact that you are innocent is not enough: you must prove the trial was itself marred.

I stayed with Marita the night before my prison visit. She lives a lonely life in Florida, only permitted to visit her husband every week or two.  Those visits are sacred to both of them.  The only disciplinary sanction Kris has got in the last three decades he has spent in prison involved a violation of the visitation policy – he stole a second kiss with his wife, when the rules only allow one.  Marita’s cottage is a shrine to the life they once had, with pictures of the couple in their London heyday, when Kris was a self-made millionaire.

She served me breakfast at the table where, every Christmas for the past 33 years, she has set a place for her husband, maintaining the fantasy that he might walk in any moment.  In the prison visitation area, Kris and I planned for his hearing. Though the Magistrate had only given us three weeks to prepare, we would meet the deadline. After all, it meant that Kris and Marita might – at long last – actually share their Christmas dinner this year.

AFTER 26 years working on the case, we were ready to prove multiple constitutional violations – from the suppression of exculpatory evidence (a government informant told them in 1986 that the cartel committed the murders), to the fact that the judge had himself been arrested on the third day of the trial for taking a bribe from a law enforcement agent posing as a drug dealer.

The first slap came with the State’s request for three months extra to prepare. That may not seem much, but it takes us into 2020, by which time Kris will be 81-years-old and Marita 80.  The potential knock-out blow came the next day when the State filed an appeal, to try to prevent the hearing altogether.  For 20 pages they argued that Kris should be barred from presenting evidence at all.  It is all nonsense, of course.

They even had the gall to argue that we have not been diligent in pursuing proof of innocence, when I have been to Colombia and back to get it.  We will do what we have always done: trudge on towards justice, hoping to persuade the appellate judge to respond with expedition.  Meanwhile the State’s lawyers callously run down the clock on Kris’s life.  I do sometimes wonder how people sleep at night.  I know I have often not been able to in the 26 years when Kris and Marita have been my responsibility, but that is because I fear I have not done enough, rather than too much.

I am working with Kris and the team at Reprieve to prepare for Kris’ trial in January. Hopefully, no other blows hit us between now and then.  Kris and Marita should not have to spend any more time apart because of an unfair trial 33 years ago.

Thank you for reading,

Read our latest death penalty report.


If you live in the Salisbury/Amesbury/Downton area and would like to join our group you would be most welcome.  You can come to one of our monthly meetings which take place on the second Thursday at 7:30 in Victoria Road Salisbury or come along to one of our events and make yourself known.  Keep and eye on this site or on Facebook or Twitter to see what we have planned.


This is a post from Reprieve concerning the death penalty in Egypt
Children are still being tried

Four years ago, the Egyptian Government committed – on the world stage – to end the death penalty for children.  But, despite this commitment, a loophole in Egypt’s Child Law continues to allow children to be tried alongside adults on capital offences.  Children in Egypt remain at risk of the death penalty. That’s why some of my team are in Geneva this week.

My colleagues working against the death penalty in Egypt are at a United Nations event this week.  Our aim is to make sure other countries like the UK hold Egypt to account on its failed promise from four years ago. We’re doing this in the lead up to Egypt’s Universal Periodic Review at the UN on November 13th.

That means we only have a few weeks to make the case to every other country that Egypt needs to be held accountable for its failure to close the loophole and protect the human rights of children.  The more countries that speak up and put pressure on Egypt, the more likely they are to close the loophole.

In turn, UK officials are more likely to step up if they see that this is something UK citizens care about. That’s why we need your help in spreading this campaign, getting more signatures, and gathering as much support as possible for ending the death penalty for children for good.

Please could you add your support.

Facebook link

Alternatively go to supporters@reprieve.org.uk


Briton now has to wait until January for his release

In a recent post we described the situation Kris Maharaj has experienced in Florida USA where he has been imprisoned for 33 years for a crime he did not commit.  There was to be a hearing on 17th of this month but we have just heard from Reprieve that this has been put back until January.   The message from Reprieve is copied below:

Justice delayed is justice denied.

Since you wrote your message of support to Kris Maharaj and his wife Marita, I’m sorry to say there has been a frustrating development.  Kris’ chance at justice was set for October 17th – but yesterday we heard it will not even happen this year.

That’s because the Florida Department of Corrections immediately sought and was granted a 90-day extension until January 18th 2020.  90 days may not sound like a lot, but Kris and his wife Marita have already been waiting 33 years for this nightmare to end.

Any delay is an injustice – and this will take us almost to Kris’ 81st birthday. We need to make sure they do not lose hope.

Can you share this latest instalment of injustice with your friends and family and ask them to add their own words of support?  Here’s a suggested message you can send them:

Kris is a British man who was charged with a murder he could not have committed.  Yet he remains in a Florida prison.  His chance at justice has again been delayed, this time for another 90 days. Add your words of support to Kris and his wife Marita as they endure the latest instalment of their ordeal: https://act.reprieve.org.uk/page/s/send-a-message-of-support-to-kris-and-marita

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UPDATE:  Reprieve have sent through a request to send a message of support to Kris and this can be accessed here.  (24 September 2019)

We report – via Reprieve – the good news that a Briton held for 33 years in Florida, has gained the chance of release about 4 years after it was proved he was innocent.  We have received an email from them which is reproduced in full below:

I’ve [Clive Stafford Smith] just had some incredibly exciting news on the case of Kris Maharaj, the Brit who has already spent 33 unjust years in Florida’s prison system for a murder he did not commit. Kris will finally have an evidentiary hearing on October 17th.  The meaning of that might not be initially obvious, but I assure you it’s a very significant development. It’s one I have been pushing for, for a long time.  It means that Kris finally has the chance to prove in a US federal court that he should not have been deprived of his liberty for more than three decades, let alone have been sentenced to death.

I’ve been involved in more than 400 capital cases over the years, and Kris’ is the greatest injustice of them all.  Evidence uncovered in 2014 proved beyond doubt that Kris is not guilty of the murders for which he has been imprisoned.  The state trial court nevertheless refused to order a new trial at the time.  That’s why I’ve been pushing for a Federal evidentiary hearing.

When I took on this case back in 1993, I had no grey hairs.  Twenty-six years on, you’d be hard pushed to find a hair on my head that isn’t grey or white – and a fair number of them have been caused by the traumas of Kris’ case. But just imagine the impact of the last 33 years on Kris and his wife Marita.  It is hard to believe that we could get justice after all the crushing disappointments we’ve been through over the years, but perhaps – just perhaps – Kris will finally come home for his first Christmas in more than three decades.
The possibility of justice would never have arisen were it not for the kindness of all his supporters.  Both Kris and Marita have said their hope wouldn’t have lasted this long without the support they get from the Reprieve community.

It’s going to be a busy month ahead as I prepare for this hearing, but the Campaigns team at Reprieve will be in touch to update you in the run-up to the 17th October.  Thank you, as always, for your support of Reprieve so we can help many people like Kris and Marita.

We reviewed on these pages, a book, Injustice, on this case by Stafford Smith making the point how unsound the American system is.   So Kris is likely to walk free but it is important to bear in mind that he might have been executed by now.  The book goes into remorseless detail about the inadequacies of the American trial system.  We are conditioned by Hollywood films and TV about how heroic it is but for the poor, the system is rotten.  The police do not have to release evidence to the defence (defense) which helps the defendant, a situation which happened in the UK before PACE was passed.

This is an uplifting story but tragically, he has had to spend over 3 decades in gaol for a crime he did not commit.

A search of his name comes up with a photograph of him with the caption ‘Kris Maharaj, murderer’.

Piece by the Sun newspaper on this case.

 

 

 

 

 

 


We receive a reply from the state of California

Think of California and we call to mind Hollywood and the film industry, Silicon Valley and major companies such as Microsoft and Google, cities such as San Francisco and Los Angeles, important universities such as Caltech, the home of surfing, and altogether a state which is a pace setter in the world and one which is much admired.  There have recently been some TV adverts in the UK promoting the state as an exciting place to visit.

But there is a dark side which is that the state is keen on the death penalty.  USA is the only country in the Americas to retain this penalty and California is one of the states which retains it in the Union.  The web site Death Penalty Information Center gives the statistics for those executed and on death row and explains that the county of Los Angeles has more prisoners on death row than any other county in the USA.  California has 741 inmates on death row (2015).

Last year there was an attempt to end it with something called Proposition 62 which failed.  Proposition 66 to retain it was successful.  So the state will continue to execute.

Amnesty is opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances.  It is ineffective as a deterrent, mistakes – and there are many – cannot be undone and it is a barbaric and uncivilised practice.  Juries are less and less willing to convict if they know the defendant may be executed.  During the course of the debate about the propositions Amnesty members wrote in favour of 62 as part of the consultation process.  Anyone who has doubts about its use as a penalty should read Clive Stafford Smith’s book on the subject reviewed here.  Chapter after chapter reveals the unfair processes which lead to someone ending up on death row.  Poor defendants cannot afford proper counsel and failures in the trial can mean avenues of defence are ‘procedurally barred’ at an appeal.

Response

We have just received a reply from the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (Motto: A Safer California through Correctional Excellence) in the state capital Sacramento with over 30 pages of material.  Essentially it contains detailed information of a bureaucratic nature concerning how the death penalty is to be administered.  There is something ghoulish about such a document and reading the fine grain of how someone is to be put to death.  There are pages and pages of details and we can only provide a short extract here.  Hannah Arendt’s phrase ‘the banality of evil’ springs to mind.   Here are some extracts:

inmates sentenced to death shall have the opportunity to elect to have the punishment imposed by lethal gas or lethal injection.  Upon being served with the warrant of execution, the inmate shall be served with CDCR Form 1801 – B (Rev 10/15), Service of Execution Warrant […]  subsection 3349

the inmate shall be notified of the opportunity to elect lethal gas or lethal injection and that, if the inmate does not choose either lethal gas or lethal injection within ten calendar days after being served with the execution warrant, the penalty of death shall be imposed by lethal injection.  […]

Infusion Control Room means the space allocated for the Lethal Injection Chemical preparation area and is the room designed to accommodated the Infusion Sub-Team designated members of the Intravenous Sub-Team, the Team Administrator Team Supervisor, designated members of the Record Keeping Sub-Team, San Quintin Litigation Coordinator  and one representative each from the Governor’s Office, the Inspector General Office and the Attorney Generals Office.  Subsection 3349

The Team Administrator shall ensure training on the lethal injection process is provided to each Lethal Injection Team member.

Ensure the inmate has a copy of the current California Code of Corrections, Title 15, Division 3, for review of general rules and procedures that shall be utilized during the days leading up to the date of execution.

The Lethal Injection Chemical selection shall be done on a case-by-case basis, taking into account changing factors such as the availability of a supply of chemical.  The San Quintin Warden shall make the selection in consultation with medical personnel and notify the CDCR Secretary of the selection.

Inform the inmate that he/she shall be executed by lethal injection, the Lethal Injection Chemical and amount to be used, and document this information on CDCR Form 1801-A (Rev. 10/15), Choice of Execution Method.

Refer the inmate to the Intravenous Sub-Team for a vein assessment to determine the size, location, and resilience of the veins.  The vein assessment shall identify the primary, backup, and alternate backup locations.  […]

[information] shall be used to determine if there is good reason to believe the inmate has become insane, pursuant to Penal Code Section 3701.  […]

Accommodations for the last meal shall be reasonable and not exceed a fifty dollar $50 limit.

Thus far, it has been 20 pages of material concerning the events leading up to the execution.  The document begins to become more gruesome when it starts to describe the actual execution process itself:

After the inmate is secured in the Lethal Injection Room, the Intravenous Sub-Team members shall […] inspect the restraints to ensure they do not restrict the inmate’s circulation or interfere with the insertion of the catheters. p22

#1 -60cc syringe containing the specified amount of the designated Lethal Injection Chemical shall be administered, followed by a consciousness assessment of the inmate; the Intravenous Sub-Team Member shall brush the back of his/her hand over the inmate’s eyelashes, and speak to and gently shake the inmate.  Observations shall be documented.  If the inmate is unresponsive, it will demonstrate that inmate is unconscious.  The process shall continue as follows:

#2 -60cc syringe containing the specified amount of the designated Lethal Injection Chemical shall be administered

[then syringe #3; #4; #5 then a saline flush] p23

If, following the administration of syringe #1 the assessment indicates the inmate is not unconscious, the Intravenous Sub-Team member shall check the catheter for patency.  After checking for patency, syringe #2 shall be administered followed by a second consciousness assessment of the inmate in the same manner [as described earlier] […]

Picture: Boston Magazine

In the event all six syringes from Tray A have been administered, the ten minutes countdown has elapsed and death has not been declared, the Record Keeping Sub-Team member shall advise the Team Supervisor, who will then advise the Team Administrator and the San Quentin Warden.  The San Quentin Warden shall direct the Lethal Injection Chemical administration process set forth in subsections (43) – (8) be repeated, but using the backup intravenous catheter and the six syringes from Tray B.  p24

This paragraph is then repeated and ends with the use of Tray C. It then goes on:

In the event of all six syringes from Tray C have been administered, the ten minutes countdown has elapsed and death has not been declared, the San Quentin Warden shall direct the Infusion Sub-Team to prepare a set of five addition syringes of Lethal Injection Chemical, each containing 1.5 grams of Lethal Injection Chemical.  The Lethal Injection Chemical shall be mixed according to the manufacture’s instructions.  A medically trained Infusion Sub-Team shall prepare the syringes.  A separate medically trained Infusion Sub-Team member or Intravenous Sub-Team member shall verify proper preparation of each syringe.  The Warden shall direct the Record keeping Sub-team member to initiate the ten minute countdown and the Infusion Sub-Team to administer a syringe containing 1.5 grams of the Lethal Injection Chemical in the alternate backup intravenous line, and wait for ten minutes.  If the inmate’s death has not been declared by the end of that ten-minute period, the San Quentin Warden shall direct the same process be followed until five syringes have been administered.  If at any time during this process the inmate is declared dead, the administration of Lethal Injection Chemical shall stop.

This paragraph is then repeated to say that if the inmate is still not dead after another ten minutes then the process is repeated.

In the event that all ten syringes of Lethal Injection Chemical referred to [in the document] have been administered, ten minutes have elapsed, and death has not been declared, the San Quentin Warden shall stop the execution and summon medical assistance for the inmate as set forth in subsection (d) p25

The meticulous detail and the amount of injections which might be necessary and the successive periods of waiting to see if he or she has died – to see it all methodically described and set out in laborious detail is decidedly chilling.


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Clive Stafford Smith is a member of Reprieve

 

 

 

 


College of Policing in fresh controversy

Updated : 23 November

The College of Policing is involved in fresh controversy today concerning their training of police in countries that regularly use torture.  In the summer it was revealed that they had training large numbers of Saudi and Bahraini police and that this training has aided them to arrest protestors who were then tortured.

On the BBC’s World at One radio programme there was an interview with a woman who’s husband had been arrested and disappeared for a month.  She alleges he was “subjected to the worst kind of physical and psychological abuse”, they beat him brutally and concentrated these beatings on his genitals.

Reprieve has published a report detailing the allegations against Mohammed Ramadan.  It now appears that the release of the information and documents about the College of Police’s activities was not meant to have happened and was as a result of ‘human error.’  From now on, details of the College’s activities will not be disclosed.

The Foreign Office maintains that the best way to improve human rights in these countries is by engagement and that we should not criticize from the sidelines.  Crispin Blunt MP, chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee said:

Human rights assessments are quite bleak [in these countries] and it is going to reinforce the arguments of those who are against engagement

Quit so.  So the worse it is, the better the justification for our engagement.  This might be fine of course if by ‘engagement’, there was some kind of visible or tangible improvement.  But it seems our involvement makes matters worse not better.  As Maya Foa, director of the death penalty team at Reprieve comments on their website:

It is scandalous that British police are training Saudi Arabian and Bahraini officers in techniques which they privately admit could lead to people being arrested, tortured and sentenced to death

Earlier in the year, the Home Affairs select committee strongly criticised the College of Policing and the secretive way they had gone about this work.  The Chief executive had apparently been told by the Foreign and Colonial Office not to answer questions for reasons of commercial confidentiality and security.

The argument that closer integration with unpleasant regimes yields positive benefits could have some merit.  If by trading, cultural contacts, training schemes, and other contacts – social or economic – good behaviour (however defined)  rubs off onto the regime then that can be claimed as a benefit.

But the suspicion with the College of Policing and other commercial activities in the region, is that it is profit and money driven with little more than lip-service given to ethics and human rights.  It is all of a piece with our arms sales to the Saudis which are causing such devastation in Yemen.

One would have expected that the College of Policing of all organisations, to have ethics and human rights at the top of their agenda.  The police have some ground to make up following a number of scandals like Hillsborough.  Helping repressive regimes to be more efficiently repressive hardly fits the bill.  Making it secret is a tacit admission that they have something to hide.

Sources: Sputnik; The Guardian; Reprieve; World at One (BBC)


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A talk by Dan Dolan of Reprieve                   

 How about this death row prisoner’s definition of Capital Punishment?

Them without the capital get the punishment. 

Dan Dolan. Picture: Reprieve

This was how Dan Dolan launched his talk on the work of Reprieve, which started by taking on the defence of British nationals on the USA’s death row and, 30 years later takes on any nationality. They expose the torture and unjust sentencing of Guantanamo inmates but their chief mission is to end the Death Penalty – on the grounds that it is not a deterrent, but an expensive public policy disaster.  They work mostly as ‘lawyers in courts’ but also know how to influence ‘the court of public opinion’.

Their focus is twofold: first, a campaign to end the use of lethal injection in the USA and second, to fight the use of the death penalty for drug-related crime in Iran, Pakistan and elsewhere.  Dan explained that in the context of the gas chamber, hanging, and firing squad, the use of lethal injection gave a veneer of respectability to the death penalty.  But ‘humane execution’ is a myth – the drugs are not designed by clinicians, and are administered by untrained prison staff.  

Their investigations amazingly found that ‘Dream Pharmer’, the main supplier of death row drugs to the USA, was actually one man operating from behind a London driving school with a cupboard-full of imported drugs from the EU!  After initially losing their case against the UK government, Reprieve, following judicial review, achieved a ban on specific lethal drug exports.  This UK ban then became an EU one.

 Next, the Danish pharmaceutical firm Lundbeck was persuaded to apply distribution controls to prevent the inadvertent supplying of companies feeding death row executions. 30 businesses followed in 6 years and with that supply failure came a pause in executions.  And with that pause came reflection.  Utah, Kansas and New Hampshire are looking at a moratorium.  Those that are looking elsewhere for suppliers (Texas, Georgia, and Mississippi) are more exposed to ‘the court of public opinion’ – a public gaze directed at botched executions.  

Reprieve’s methods are pragmatic – focusing not on moral arguments but on tracing sources and support structures: ‘throwing sand in the wheels of the machinery of death’.

The second focus of Reprieve’s current work is withdrawing EU aid to drug-related executions, chiefly in Iran and Pakistan which account hugely for the global total. (Iran hanged 600 last year, Pakistan has 112 on death row.)  Here the ‘chain of complicity’ is being investigated. The officials who arrested and prosecuted Arshad Ahmed were trained by UK staff, used scanners provided by UK aid and received UK legal assistance in the making of their laws.  The innocent ‘mule’  was the only prosecution among 25 arrests – and he awaits the death sentence.

So the policy is both unjust and counter-productive – with an increase in drugs trafficking and a heroin confiscation of only 2 – 4 %.  Reprieve persuaded the UK to make ‘Raid Aid’ conditional on Pakistan renouncing the death penalty.  Now 6 EU countries have withdrawn ‘Raid Aid’ to focus on rehabilitation and give law-enforcement support only when not death-penalty related. 

The analysis of agency – the use of leverage and the building of ‘coalitions of interest’ – are the methods that Reprieve (with only 30 staff) has employed so effectively.  However Dan wryly admitted that the possibility of ending the Death Penalty in our lifetime has perhaps receded significantly given this week’s US election result. 

Our thanks to Dan Dolan and to New Forest Amnesty for hosting this lively and informative talk.


Hosted by New Forest Amnesty in The Lymington Centre on 12 November 2016.

Read our review of Clive Stafford Smith’s book Injustice 

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Life and death in the courtrooms of America

It sometimes comes as a shock to people that the only country in the Americas which still has the death penalty is the USA.  It is especially favoured by the southern states such as Louisiana, Texas and Florida and we have on many occasions on this blog mentioned particular cases where the wrong man is convicted of a crime or where the evidence is at best doubtful.

Our view here in the UK of the justice system in America is heavily conditioned by Hollywood films, on screen or on TV, which give a highly biased view of the real life situation.  In these depictions, an innocent man or woman has been wrongfully arrested.  Clean cut lawyers appear for the defendant and there is a tense meeting in the DA’s office.  At some point, the defence (or defense if you’re reading this in the USA) lawyer says ‘we’re outa here’ and they all sweep out.  Hearings, such as a Grand Jury happen as if by magic and subsequent court appearances take place soon after.  Few episodes can go by without a lawyer saying someone’s ‘Miranda rights have been infringed’ and more people sweep out.  Everyone is dedicated to securing justice with the exception of one individual (a witness, police officer or someone needed for the plot) who is found out at the end.  More clean cut young people find a tiny and crucial piece of evidence and this is sufficient to set a defendant free, often in the last minute or so of the trial.  The overall impression is of a system that works – albeit uncertainly at times – with the good guy getting off at the end.

If you read Clive Stafford Smith’s book Injustice * you will find that these Hollywood stories are for many in the States, fiction.  Clive has spent many years in the USA helping people on death row, the majority of whom should not be there.  The book is about one individual, Krishna Maharaj (pictured), who was on death row in Florida for 28 years before being released.  It is a truly astonishing book with 110 pages of detailed notes and describes the dysfunctional legal system in states such a Florida.

The problem – bizarrely – is that an innocent man or woman is often more at risk that someone who is guilty.  Innocent people believe, often wrongly to their cost, that they don’t have to prove anything because they are innocent.  There cannot be any evidence to prove they did it because they didn’t.  They also think that the justice system is unbiased and the truth will out eventually, a ‘touching faith’ as Clive describes it.

 

The book explores these issues in great detail.  America elects its law officers and so there is great pressure to convict to prove to the electorate that you are ‘tough on crime’.  Sentencing people to death is a great way to prove this.  Unlike recent changes to the justice system in the UK, the defence has no right of disclosure.  So the police need only present evidence allegedly proving guilt, and not reveal evidence that proves the defendant innocent.  This practice was also commonplace in the UK before new rules were introduced following some high profile injustices were discovered.  In Florida, because of the enormous amount of money flooding in to the state from the drug barons, corruption is rife throughout the justice system.  Amazingly, the judge himself in Krishna’s trial was arrested for bribery and corruption after three days of hearings.  The police are often themselves involved in the drugs trade.

 

So if the judge was arrested, then surely the trial should start afresh?  No, because defence lawyers are paid so little and on a block fee basis, to start again is something they cannot afford, so they just ploughed on with a new judge.   The quality of defence lawyers is frequently poor and they fail to cross-examine properly, call relevant witnesses or even to meet the defendant that often.  The problem here is that if through incompetence or otherwise the defence lawyer does not raise the issues at trial, then appeal courts will rule matters to be ‘procedurally barred’ subsequently.

So alibis are not called, forensic evidence not challenged, police witnesses’ changes in evidence not challenged and so on and so on.  The result was an innocent man narrowly escaping death row for a crime he did not commit and which was committed it was eventually discovered, by someone acting for a drug cartel.  The man murdered was ‘skimming’ drug profits.  Errors are so great and so frequent that justice would better be served if it was done on the basis of a coin toss.  Fewer would be executed on this basis.

Clive Stafford Smith is an extraordinary lawyer but he is also a great story teller and this account of Kris Maharaj death row case is a powerful thriller beautifully told.  Helena Kennedy QC [senior lawyer in the UK]

Passionate and Humane Mail onSunday

This is a highly recommended book for anyone interested in the justice system.  If you have written letters to governors and others in the States it will explain a lot.  Clive Stafford Smith was the founder of Reprieve.

A story about the case in Miami Herald

*Injustice by Clive Stafford Smith, Vintage books, 2013


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Ray Hinton released after 28 years on death row in Alabama

Anthony Ray Hinton NBC News

This story is both tragic and uplifting.  Anthony Ray Hinton was released in April last year from death row in Alabama, USA having spent 28 years there for a crime he did not commit.  He was not present at the crime scene when the murder happened and had good alibis to prove it.  His mother had a gun but it did not match the one used in the murder.

The failures inherent in the US justice system, especially in the southern states, are fully described in Clive Stafford Smith’s book Injustice (Vintage, 2013).  Clive is founder of Reprieve.  He describes the low rates of pay for defence lawyers, elected prosecutors keen to convince the electorate that they are tough on crime, the lack of access to police material (disclosure) which means that information which disproves their case is not revealed until after the trial, and so on.  We hope to publish a longer review of this important book soon.

His release depended on finding a good lawyer and the work of the Equal Justice Network.

In this Guardian piece Ray describes his experiences after leaving which included looking up at the stars, standing in the rain and sleeping on a full length bed.

We publish a review of the use of the death penalty around the world and the latest issue is here.


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